The CHP’s situation is our situation
Several segments of society have been saying lately that this country needs a serious, consistent and democratic opposition to the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which marched to power with 50 percent support. It is indeed very difficult to expect a unipolar system to proceed in a healthy and balanced way, especially on the road to democratization.
Many of us welcomed with hope Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s election as party leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP). The CHP might be weaned off in time from its tendencies of sticking to the status quo, defending strict etatism and supporting militarism and could evolve toward becoming a social democratic party supporting universal criteria. At least, the “optimist” expectations have been in this direction.
We were not expecting a party such as the CHP to become cut off from its entire past and become a consistently democratic party. We were aware that a significant portion of its voter profile was close to the preferences that its former leader, Deniz Baykal, symbolized.
The election statements made by Kılıçdaroğlu and friends during the 2011 campaign contained positive signs. New approaches to the Kurdish issue and comparatively more democratic preferences on the military-civilian relationship all pointed toward a change.
First breaking point: The Ergenekon case
The first breaking point of the Kılıçdaroğlu crew occurred with the Ergenekon case, an alleged ultranationalist shadowy gang accused of planning to topple the government by staging a coup, initially by spreading chaos and mayhem.
The CHP leader’s statement “Where is this organization; I also want to become a member” and later, the nomination of two Ergenekon defendants in the election as deputy candidates, demonstrated that he stands on the opposite direction of the historical feature of the case.
Despite the existence of several practices that need to be objected to in the Ergenekon case, this case continues to hold the promise of altering Turkey’s century-old military-centric political paradigm. It is important to remember that the military’s illegitimate interventions into politics gained meaning for the first time with this case.
Recently, the CHP administration demanded a defense from Hüseyin Aygün, who had asked that the Dersim incident be questioned and that one of the biggest humanitarian shames in our history be brought to the table. (In 1938, a military operation killed thousands of people in the area of Dersim, now Tunceli.) This latest incident demonstrates very clearly the “situation” of the CHP.
You have covered up the Dersim massacre and not permitted any discussion of it – and that in a region where you received 60 percent of the votes. You are not able to go beyond the status quo in the solution to the Kurdish problem. Despite all this, you ask, “Why are the people not voting for us?”
The situation of the CHP is not very bright. The vehicle is taking on water. The status quo is being defended. Kılıçdaroğlu is being left behind on daily developments, and policies are not being generated on essential matters.
In a country where there is no democratic opposition, overcoming the difficulties of a unipolar administration in power and writing a new and civilian constitution will not be easy at all.
Oral Çalışlar is a columnist for daily Radikal in which this piece appeared on Nov. 18. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.